Wooden boat steering wheels, skulls and crossbones and knotted ropes lined the pirate themed Redwood Bar & Grill in downtown Los Angeles. There was a steady trickle of friends and fans of Ari Shine that flowed through the doors that night.
Ari Shine’s Los Angeles based power pop turned folk pop singer/songwriter style set’s him apart from the masses. The show took place on the night preceding the release of Ari’s second full-length album Ghost Town Directory. The Redwood was the perfect place to showcase his talent.
A long, fully stocked bar led to the back where the postage stamp stage was set up for a humble performance. Old wooden barrels were fashioned into tables for the seating areas surrounding the stage. Ari had the stage to himself that night although it wasn’t planned that way.
Banjo player Frank Fairfield was supposed to open for Ari that night, but he was unable to make it due to an emergency surgery he had to have that day. However, Ari’s wife Adrienne Pierce was there to accompany him on a few songs. Adrienne’s possesses a childlike quality in her voice while still resonating with a great deal of wisdom. The balance of Ari and Adrienne’s voices together made for a delicious sweet and savory mix.
Armed with an acoustic guitar, subtle rasp and sweet rhythm in his voice, Ari took the stage solo at first. Before you knew it he strapped a harmonica around his neck for the song “Everybody wants me, but I want you.” The harmonica added a rustic flavor to this sideways love song.
I would venture to call Ari a heartfelt poet after hearing his honest and committed lyrics. He appropriately gave a shout out to Tom Petty and Bob Dylan during his set and their influence is clear. His voice is incredibly diverse delivering waves of powerful vocals with delicate bits and pieces sprinkled in.
Ari’s live show is stripped down which features his voice and lyrics with great authenticity. The album Ghost Town Directory features a whole band and full on production value, which partially masks his raw talent. There is a vulnerability and sensitivity in Ari’s voice that allows his emotion to shine through in his live performance.
It is often said that artists are much better on their album than in real life, but with Ari it is the other way around. The song “Ship in a Bottle” instantly reminded me of Elliott Smith. Ari’s voice leans into a well of pain and struggle in this song, while he delicately strums enchanting chords. Then he slipped right into the song “Thirteen,” a Big Star cover that was almost better than the original. I felt chills engulf my entire body during Ari’s sweetly soulful delivery of this song.
There are some pop tones mixed into Ari Shine’s music, but there is also a definite folk vibe streaming through Ghost Town Directory. Kind of Wilco meets Elvis Costello with a pinch of Elliott Smith for good measure. Ari is a cockeyed love struck optimist with a voice that sails in on a cloud to tell you a charming story. He may be coming to a town near you and if not you can check him out here: http://www.arishine.com/ or find him on twitter @ari_shine.
The album Ghost Town Directory is available on iTunes.